Student band At The Latest performed for an hour at Starbucks on Friday night, Aug. 31. It was one of the few concerts that I’ve attended, and one of the few that I’ve enjoyed.
But it wasn’t the music or the quality of the performance that made it enjoyable — it was the casual and informal ambiance.
At the Latest is comprised of sophomores Vikram Gupta, Shawn Cummings and Blake Donaldson. Gupta was the lead singer and took center stage, while Blake provided vocals for two out of the seven songs. Vikram for the most part stuck to the guitar while he vocalized. Cummings was mostly on drums, but played guitar and trumpet for a few of the songs. Donaldson stuck to the piano.
The songs played were mostly covers from different albums, but two songs in particular caught my attention. The first of these, called “Feel the Tide,” by Mumford & Sons, was sung by Gupta. He told the audience that he sang it during “one of the most stressful nights of [his] life.” And it showed through the incredible emotion in his voice
The second of these, “Won’t You Be Mine,” was sung by Donaldson.
The attitude of the band and the concert was informal. Even their description on the Yellowjacket weekend schedule page — “a Multicultural Neo-Cubist Post Modern Pop-Rock-Jazz Trio, skilled in STEM and Linguistics” — was made as a joke. So it was strange that despite this, only Gupta took center stage, downplaying the role of his bandmates. When Donaldson mentioned that he would sing two songs despite lacking Gupta’s charisma, the audience seemed relieved.
The change was a breath of fresh air, so the audience got excited. The surprising part for me was how much Donaldson downplayed himself and yet sang so well. For a moment, I thought that Gupta taking center stage for so long robbed Donaldson of his confidence.
Unlike Donaldson though, we didn’t get to hear Cummings sing, which was disappointing. Given Donaldson’s unexpected performance, I was hoping for the same from Cummings.
To say the audience was hyped would be a lie. They were more reserved, and enjoyed the beat like elevator music. I also found it that way. The concert felt more like something I’d attend to get peace of mind rather than to party.
This was actually what made it great for me. I could see myself sitting in Starbucks and working while enjoying the authenticity of the show. There aren’t a lot of concerts out there as laid back, and in this respect, At The Latest is unique.